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Rye Field M1A2 Abrams

Rye Field Models keeps raising the bar. Its new Abrams provides parts to build one of three versions — an M1A2 TUSK II, an M1A2 TUSK, and the one I built, an M1A1 TUSK — as well as optional parts for coolers, ammunition boxes, and spare road wheels. The hatches are posable and the clear parts are molded in green to replicate the tint of ballistic glass.

Decals supply markings for three tanks. The instructions clearly indicate part and assembly differences between the versions, with notes and color changes for the M1A1.

This is the first armor kit I’ve built in which assembly started with the turret rather than the hull. Most of the turret went together without issue except for the outer frame of the inner turret basket (part D12). The arms were not at the exact angle, so I bent them into position and super glued the frame into place.

When I added the outer basket, I noticed it sat higher due to the inner basket being warped inward. As the glue set, I added weight to the outer basket to force both baskets into alignment.

The .50-caliber machine-gun mount (part E45) only allows the gun to be posed elevated. The loader’s gun mount was warped and needed bending to get it into proper shape.

The road wheels and suspension presented no problems. The working torsion-bar suspension is nice, but I don’t see the need on a static model.

I added the belly armor after painting the hull Tamiya NATO Green.

Track jigs allow for building eight links at a time. I realized as I started to assemble the links as shown that the part numbers for the track blocks are reversed. The illustrations are correct, but use part Y1 for the outer face and Y2 for the inner side. There are six parts per link, so assembling them is time consuming — and little of the detail can be seen on the finished model.  To leave them workable, I applied thick cement to each block with a small paint brush to prevent glue from fouling the pins.

I painted the tracks Tamiya earth and used black pastel to bring out the detail in the rubber blocks. The side armor was painted Tamiya desert yellow and weathered with brown pastel to match photos.

I painted the vehicle with Tamiya NATO acrylics and weathered with pastels to represent the dusty conditions of Iraq. The decals went down with ease.

M1A1/M1A2 SEP Abrams TUSK by Carl Schulze (Tankograd, no ISBN) was my main reference.

I spent 70 hours building the Abrams, much of it assembling the fiddly tracks. That and problems such as the warped parts make Rye Field’s M1A2 a kit for experienced modelers.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the November 2016 issue.


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